The ace composer had done about 65 Telugu movies before he detoured to Tamil and began garnering fame around the Kodambakkam circuit. Then came another detour, this time into the field of Malayalam films. And what do you know, in Kerala film circles, he is being hailed as the 'Rahman of Malayalam cinema,' with Summer In Bethlehem, Ezhupunnatharakan, Niram, Millennium Stars and Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram ranking high in his list of prestigious projects.
You were hugely successful in Telugu cinema when you came over to Tamil -- what prompted the move?
I was about 60, 65 films old in Telugu cinema when I began to think I had reached a kind of dead-end. It was around the same time that I got my first Tamil film, Jai Hind, and people began to sit up and take notice. That film was closely followed by Karna. And one particular song in that film, Malare, got me rave reviews. In fact, I'd say that is my all-time favourite composition. It was hectic. I would get a late night call, it would be from, say, Sweden. Someone from a Tamil club there would say, "We are sorry to call you up so late, but we are just playing your song now, please say something..." Then, more movies followed. Some flopped, some did okay -- but, overall, success was not consistent. My fame began to wane though I guess I made some kind of mark. Then I got my first Malayalam offer to do music for Azhagiya Ravanan. And that film fetched me the first state award in my entire career. Next year, my Krishnakudiyil Pranaya Kalathu was nominated, but didn't win the award. The year after that, I had Pranayavarnangal -- and another award. And, by then, I was being widely appreciated in Kerala.